My Number One tip for trade fair exhibitors

Filing cabinet

Filing cabinet

As a veteran of trade fairs, I was reminded the other day of the best thing that I learned to do for a trade fair. We have a lockable filing cabinet that comes with us to every trade fair. In the filing cabinet we have all of the items that we’ll need at the fair, from tools to help us bump in and bump out to pens that we’ll need to write our customers orders.

Over time, as we discover things we need, we add them to the collection. There’s no point wishing you hadn’t returned the Stanley knife to the toolbox in the trailer when you’re working the stand. Instead, we have a mini essential tools box in the filing cabinet. Once the stand is assembled, we can pack the large tool box back into the trailer, safe in the knowledge that there’s a Stanley knife in the filing cabinet.

So that our filing cabinet doesn’t look like one of the furniture items we have on display, we cover it with a piece of black material. We sit our laptop on top of our “stand” and it displays the rest of our furniture catalogue in a scrolling slide show. Our personal belongings are locked securely away while we’re working the stand and we have our emergency equipment handy as well.

When we get back to the warehouse we restock the filing cabinet, adding in anything new that we discover we simply must have at a trade show. We clean our trade show insulated coffee mugs, repack our organisers for our office stationery items and tools, remove the old trade show flyers from the display stands, pack our high visibility vests in there, and generally have it spick and span for our next foray into the wonderful world of trade shows. We then lock it up and forget about it. No pinching the scissors out of the filing cabinet or borrowing the hammer. That way we’re secure in the knowledge that we’ll have everything we need at the next trade show.


Delight your customers

Wow your customersGraham and I received some excellent advice lately about delighting customers. It really got us thinking about what we could do in our business to delight our customers.

Before I share it with you, I want you to take a moment to think about your last retail shopping experience and then answer the following questions:

  • Have you shopped there before?
  • What was the service like?
  • Would you recommend the store to others? Why?
  • Did you tell or want to tell anyone about the experience?

Thinking back to my last shopping expedition, nothing out of the ordinary happened. Graham and I went to an office supplies store (great range of goods), a local chemist (looking for a particular item), a local supermarket (convenient to home) and a local bakery (quality products). We’ve shopped in all of those places before. The service ranged from non-existent (nobody approached us in chemist, blank space on shelf, we left) to average (bored teenager serving in the bakery, indifferent supermarket checkout assistant) to mildly annoying (teenager moving goods to his side of wide counter and leaving them there for us to gather). All in all, it was a typical shopping expedition. I’d recommend the bakery to others living nearby, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to tell anyone about today’s experience.

Last week, Graham and I were in Sydney, attending a couple of trade shows. At one of the trade shows, we were fortunate enough to hear Debra Templar speak on the subject of “Shoppertainment”. Her whole seminar was inspiring but one thing in particular stood out for me. Debra talked about attracting and keeping customers by giving them “unexpected delight”. That really hit a chord for me, particularly given our business name, Quality Price Service Importers. For us, giving our customers quality goods at the right price with outstanding service is our starting point. As far as we are concerned, our customers shouldn’t be surprised to get great service or pleased when the products they buy from us work. Debra really got me thinking. How could we give our customers “unexpected delight”?

The first thing that I realised was that an unexpected delight can turn into an expected delight which then becomes taken for granted over time. For example, the hairdressing salon I patronise gives me a “complimentary colour treatment” every time I get my hair coloured there. While I thought it was a lovely gesture the first time, when I didn’t expect it, I now think of it as “built into the price” rather than “complimentary”.

The second thing I realised was that the delight didn’t have to be something that I took away with me. Occasionally, I’ve been offered a glass of champagne at the hairdressers. I’ve never accepted it because I drive there, but I love being offered it. It makes me feel like a special customer, partly because it only happens once in a while.

The third thing I realised was that a delight doesn’t have to be expensive. Whenever we buy meat at one particular butcher shop, Graham’s face lights up as he takes a lollipop from the basket on the counter.

Debra had lots of fun ideas for retailers on how to give customers unexpected delight. For example, they could pop a discount voucher for future purchases into the bag as a thank you when customers made a purchase. I know this works. We were pleased to be given a discount card on leaving a restaurant one night a few years ago because “you’ve been such lovely customers”. We weren’t able to use the card at the time as it expired before we were back in Sydney, however, every time we go there for a trade show we go to Tony Roma’s for dinner one night.

While the idea of “unexpected delight” is what hit a chord with me, the more I’ve thought about it the more I’ve realised that the important thing is to delight the customers. The unexpectedness simply adds to the customer’s feeling of delight.

As a result, we’ve decided to aim to achieve more than the quality, price and service of our business name. We’re making it company policy to delight our customers.

30 day photo challenge – Day 11 – Something blue

I was going to take a photo of the blue ute, but Graham disappeared and returned with his beloved Blues scarf. I didn’t have the heart to knock the idea down in flames. When I suggested that Floyd might like to wear it for the photo, Graham was even more enthusiastic. He’s been trying to count Floyd amongst the Blues supporters, while I have been staunchly declaring her a Doggies supporter. For non-AFL followers, I will translate. AFL = Australian Football League. Blues = Carlton Football Club. Doggies = Western Bulldogs Football Club.

Here’s Floyd, wrapped in Graham’s scarf.

Floyd wrapped in the Blues

Floyd wrapped in the Blues

And here are some photos of Graham’s pretty boy blue ute and matching trailer. Graham had the trailer custom built so that he could transport his outdoor furniture from the warehouse to trade shows etc. It looks pretty good, doesn’t it? I’ll drive the ute, but not with the trailer on the back.
By the way, I’ll give you three guesses as to Graham’s favourite colour!
The blue ute and trailer in Canberra

The blue ute and trailer in Canberra

Trailer and ute

Graham had this trailer custom built

Blue trailer and ute

The trailer is great for transporting furniture to trade shows